A year ago, First Contact debuted on APTN. The three-night broadcast event explored Indigenous culture through the eyes of six Canadians. Narrated by George Stroumboulopoulos, First Contact followed those six on a 28-day adventure to Winnipeg, Nunavut, Alberta, Northern Ontario and the coast of B.C. to visit Indigenous communities to challenge their preconceived notions and prejudices.
Now, First Contact returns for a second season. Hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos and broadcast over three nights—Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on APTN—it once again seeks to inform and educate Canadians about First Nations people, culture and beliefs, and rid them of some preconceptions along the way. In my preview of Season 1, I wrote about growing up in Brantford, Ont. Located close to the Six Nations of the Grand River, I heard the awful, racist jokes uttered by more than one person in that city. In Season 2, a fellow Brantfordian takes part.
Sixty-two-year-old Larry Harris works in shipping and receiving and enters First Contact believing anything bad that befalls Indigenous Peoples are their own fault. So, does he change his tune over the 28-day experience? Certainly not within the first few minutes. Larry voices the opinion we are still shouldering the guilt for those who took the land away from the First Nations. Participants Brennan Kovic and Laurianne Bencharski say similar things, the latter that anytime a white person speaks about Indigenous Peoples they’re labelled a racist.
Twenty-six-year-old Samantha Whitehead, meanwhile, has a different view. She has never met a member of the First Nations and is genuinely interested in being educated. As for Jackson Way, the 19-year-old from Midland, Ont.—who hopes to teach history one day—believes taking benefits away from Indigenous Peoples will force the community “to work to get certain things.” He wonders if the current system is trying to make up for what happened in the past.
The six head to Kanesatake, QC, and learn the other side of the story of the 1990 Oka Siege—a very different tale from what Larry tells Brennan and Samantha on the bus there—and then in Natuashish, Labrador, time spent with the local Innu Peoples sheds new light on its residents and history.
In Episode 2, the six participants travel to Thunder Bay, where a number of incidents have exposed racist attitudes towards Indigenous Peoples prior to a meeting with residential school survivors in southern Ontario.
In the emotionally charged final episode, the six travel to Saskatchewan. Once there, they meet with people from communities deeply affected by the death and trial of Colten Boushie. At the conclusion of Episode 3, the Indigenous hosts and producers will sit down in an interactive panel, live on Facebook
First Contact airs Tuesday-Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on APTN.
In association with Animiki See Digital Production, Nüman Films and Indios Productions, APTN announced today that it will premiere season two of the documentary-series, First Contact as a three-night television event on APTN starting September 17 at 8 p.m. ET/CT/MT.
The series will continue with episode two on Wednesday, September 18 and episode three on Thursday, September 19. Following the third episode on Thursday, September 19 at 8 p.m. ET/CT/MT, the travelers and some of the Indigenous hosts and producers will sit down in an interactive panel, live on Facebook.
Following the success of season one, this brand-new season once again takes six Canadians, all with varied opinions about Indigenous Peoples, on a unique 28-day exploration of Indigenous communities. The three-part series, narrated by host and social justice activist George Stroumboulopoulos, has proven to be a compelling exploration into Indigenous culture in Canada.
The participants will have their lives turned upside down, their perceptions challenged and their prejudices confronted in this three-part series. This journey will change their lives forever.
The six travelers’ life-changing, 28-day journey into Indigenous communities starts in Kanesatake, QC. The participants are exposed to a new perspective about the Oka Siege and then in Natuashish, Labrador, time spent with the local Innu Peoples sheds new light on its residents and history.
In episode two, the six participants travel south to Thunder Bay, where a number of tragic incidents have exposed racist attitudes towards Indigenous people. Then, a meeting with residential school survivors in southern Ontario shocks the travelers.
In the final episode, the group travels to northern Saskatchewan and face their biggest test yet. There, they meet with people from communities deeply affected by the death and trial of Colten Boushie. Finally, the group travels to Yukon, where self-governance is helping a community flourish.
Indigenous educators and storytellers include:
Ian Campeau, formerly of a Tribe Called Red
Colleen Cardinal, Sixties Scoop survivor
Ellen Gabriel and Elder John Cree, Front line community members at the Oka Siege
Stephanie MacLaurin, community host in Fort William First Nation
Becky Sasakamoose Kuffner, race relations coordinator in Saskatoon
Eleanore Sunchild, legal council for the Boushie family
Debbie Baptiste, Colten Boushie’s mother
Season 2 began filming in August 2018, prior to the release of season 1.
The following six participants will leave their everyday lives behind to visit Indigenous communities across Canada:
Brennen is outspoken, loyal, honest, and is known for being a jokester. Brennen straddles political lines; he feels strongly about LGBTQ+ rights, housing and health care, and believes in being fiscally conservative. He considers himself a person who is helpful and treats people with respect. As a first-generation, Croatian immigrant whose family has seen great success in Canada, he feels that Indigenous Peoples lack the necessary work ethic to succeed, and instead choose to blame others for their problems.
Location: Midland, Ont.
An East Coast resident, Jackson Way has been attending school in Nova Scotia for the last year studying history. But this 19-year-old animal lover calls Ontario home. Jackson has a passion for history and politics and is a creative person. He loves poetry, playing guitar, songwriting and singing, and theatre. He has strong opinions about Indigenous Peoples and feels they receive special treatment. He loves to learn, feels strongly about social responsibility and is always up for a healthy debate.
Location: Prince Albert, Sask.
Occupation: Former Corrections Officer
Laurianne is a very active person and is interested in a variety of recreational activities. In her free time, she loves to ride on her ski doo or quad, curl, slow pitch, and spend time at her cabin. Living in Prince Albert, where 40% of the population is Indigenous, she has experienced many negative interactions and feels like a victim. This has led to her harbouring many negative feelings toward Indigenous Peoples.
Location: Brantford, Ont.
Occupation: Shipping and Receiving
Outgoing and charming, Larry is an opinionated man with a fun-loving exterior. But he holds strong stereotypical views towards Indigenous Peoples and sees them as angry and greedy. Mostly, he feels they are to blame for any hardships they face, and the rest of society has to pay for it. In his free time, Larry loves to spend time at the cottage, fishing, hunting, and cycling.
When asked how others would describe her, Stephanie said they would call her a dreamer, someone who thinks unconventionally, is friendly and optimistic. Samantha grew up in a tight-knit family and describes her childhood as ‘quite perfect.’ Growing up in the suburbs, she has admittedly grown up in a very sheltered world. Not only does she know nothing about Indigenous Peoples or culture, she claims to have never even met an Indigenous person in her life.
Location: Tyndall, Man.
Occupation: Stay-at-home mother and co-owner of a trucking business
Stephanie and her family spend lots of time on the road and love traveling to tropical locations during the cold Manitoba winters. Living near Winnipeg, she associates being Indigenous with homelessness, addiction and crime. But, she has recently discovered that she herself has Métis heritage. However, her interest in this discovery has nothing to do with fostering a cultural or spiritual connection. Instead, she is interested in only using it to obtain perceived “perks” for her children.
First Contact is produced by Animiki See Digital Production, Nüman Films and Indios Productions, with the financial participation of the Canada Media Fund. Producers are Vanessa Loewen and Desiree Single from Animiki, Jeff Newman and Jocelyn Mitchell from Nüman Films, and Stephanie Scott from Indios Productions. This series is written and directed by Jeff Newman.
Growing up in Brantford, Ont., I was close to the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nations Reserve. I heard about being able to buy cheap cigarettes there, as well as stories of drunk Indigenous youth coming into the city, getting drunk and stealing a car to get back home. Those cars would be found, burned out, on the reserve. So yes, I had preconceived notions about who Indigenous peoples were.
But that was before I delved into Canadian and American history and educated myself. My beliefs have changed. But what about other everyday Canadians? Has the fact it’s 2018 changed the way most think of Indigenous peoples?
That’s the focus of First Contact, APTN’s three-night broadcast event—Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. ET—that explores Indigenous culture through the eyes of six Canadians. Narrated by George Stroumboulopoulos, First Contact follows the six on a 28-day adventure to Winnipeg, Nunavut, Alberta, Northern Ontario and the coast of B.C. to visit Indigenous communities to challenge their preconceived notions and prejudices. Animiki See Digital Productions, Nüman Films and Indios Productions have created something necessary and special with First Contact, an important, educational program that is the perfect companion piece to 1491: The Untold Story of the Americas before Columbus, which aired late last year on APTN.
As expected, the six go into the experience with the same thoughts I once had. (Check out the trailer below for a peek.)
But being immersed in Indigenous cultures for close to a month leads to some startling revelations and heartrending moments. It’s pretty tough, though, to watch the first few minutes of Episode 1, as the six arrive in Winnipeg’s notorious North End, where Michael Redhead Champagne (an award-winning community organizer, public speaker and Shamattawa Cree Nation member) welcomes them.
It doesn’t take long for participants like Ashley to utter the word “drunk” and Dallas to wonder aloud why money, education and housing are given to First Nations people and nothing is done with it. Ross goes one step further, describing run-down, burned out homes on reservations and defending residential schools as a system designed to help. It’s pretty embarrassing to watch but also representative of stories and assumptions made.
Day 1 immerses the six in the midst of Winnipeg’s 90,000 Indigenous population. One half of the group is trucked out to a well-to-do neighbourhood to live with an Indigenous family for 24 hours, shaking up their expectations that a reservation stay was in the cards. It’s over dinner that they discuss Indian status, assimilation and colonization. It’s a frank, honest and enriching conversation for all. Credit goes to the six participants for asking questions and to the First Nations people for answering. It all goes a long way to an understanding on both sides, and for viewers too.
First Contact airs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on APTN.
I was just told that there is a three-day special airing on September 13, at 7 p.m. It is about taking people to the reserve and educating them on cultural genocide, racism and what it is like to grow up on the reserve. Is this information correct? If it is can you tell me what are the three days it is being aired and what is the special called? —Irene
The three-day special is called First Contact. Narrated by George Stroumboulopoulos, First Contact takes six Canadians—all with strong opinions about Indigenous people—on a unique 28-day exploration of Indigenous Canada. It debuts on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m. ET, and continues on Wednesday, Sept. 12 and on Thursday, Sept. 13. You can find more details here.
Hey, will you be showing Diggstown in the USA? Or will it just be shown in Canada? —Kimberly
No U.S. broadcast information has been revealed yet, but we’ll let you know when it does.
A good episode [of The Amazing Race Canada]. Brawn with the potatoes, brains with the word scramble and navigation/luck with Eckhart … who should be the mascot of our Race like the U.S. has the gnome. Live animals can be unpredictable, but still a bit surprising everyone went to the planting task. Leanne’s fall was tough, especially since it seemed like a simple clue to find and it cost them the Race. The Speed Bump was good for the episode if not really a challenge. No dance task; there goes the theory about the memory task at the end. —DanAmazing
All evenly matched teams now. The only way Martina and Phil may win is if they have a strong lead in time over the others. Martina has not been able to run as fast as the other Racers when it has come down to racing to the mat. She definitely wins the prize if there was one for being the most entertaining and comedic Racer. Cheering for all the teams left, like them all equally. —Tunie
It is Sunday, Aug. 19, and I also just found out about InnerSpace being cancelled. This is too bad. I do suspect that Bell Media will also be cancelling Space in the near future like they have so many other channels. The [cable] rates keep going up and the channels keep disappearing. Bell Media holds a monopoly on what can be watched in Canada but it better be careful because monopolies are based on subscriptions and people are getting tired of their crap. Hopefully the hosts of InnerSpace will find better work than at Bell Media. To Bell Media I say beware there are other places to go these days. The lines are now opened and the boxes are slowly taking over. —Evil
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APTN, in association with Animiki See Digital Productions, Nüman Films, and Indios Productions, announced today that it will premiere the documentary-series, FIRST CONTACT (3 X 60). A compelling exploration into Indigenous culture in Canada, the three-part series is narrated by host and social justice activist George Stroumboulopoulos and takes six Canadians, all with strong opinions about Indigenous people, on a unique 28-day exploration of Indigenous Canada. It is a journey that will turn their lives upside down, challenging their perceptions and confronting their prejudices about a world they never imagined they would see. This exploration will change the participants’ lives forever.
Airing on Tuesday, September 11 at 7:00 p.m. ET, the series will continue with episode two on Wednesday, September 12 and episode three on Thursday, September 13. The second and third episodes will be followed by a two-part reunion special airing September 12 and 13 at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Following the second episode on Wednesday, APTN will air the first of a two-part reunion special featuring three Indigenous hosts that appear in the series. James Favel (co-founder of the Bear Clan Patrol), Michael Redhead Champagne (award-winning community organizer, public speaker and Shamattawa Cree Nation member) and Bernadette Smith (MLA, Assistant Director of Wayfinders Program in the Seven Oaks School Division) will come together in front of a live Winnipeg audience to reflect on the journey of the six participants and share their goals on how all Canadians can help strengthen relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
Part two of the dramatic reunion special airs after the finale on Thursday evening, and will see the six participants come together before a live studio audience, to reflect on their experience during and since their journey together.
The following six participants will leave their everyday lives behind to travel deep into Winnipeg, Nunavut, Alberta, Northern Ontario, and the coast of BC to visit Indigenous communities:
Ashley Mathieu Age: 32
Hometown: Ottawa, ON
Occupation: Personal trainer
About: Ashley’s life has been a truly transformative journey. The daughter of a Canadian Royal Mounted Police Officer and a Portuguese immigrant mother, she was a shy little girl who got bullied throughout most of her childhood. Having been through many challenges and hard times, Ashley is an empathetic person who is interested in learning about other people before passing judgment. She is also a direct and outspoken person and believes every Canadian has a right to their own opinion and the right to express it.
Hometown: Chilliwack, BC
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom
About: Avonlea has spent her life caring for others, from her brother to her young sons. Her big heart and compassion are her defining qualities. Open to learning and changing, Avonlea dreams of living overseas one day and hopes her children get a chance to learn about other cultures in the world; something she never got to do. Avonlea considers herself open to new cultures, people and environments.
Hometown: Saint John, NB
Occupation: Lobster fisherman/welder
About: Outgoing and athletic from childhood, Dallas spent his adolescence playing sports and hanging out at the community centre with the same group of kids he is still friends with to this day. Dallas’ parents pushed him to be someone who cared about others and he does his best to help others however he can. His mom is his role model, as she always made sure he was able to participate in activities with friends, despite a limited household income.
Donald Wright Age: 65
Hometown: Ardrossan, AB
Occupation: Retired truck driver
About: Donald is proud to consider himself honest, with a strong work ethic and integrity. A self-proclaimed opinionated conservative, he considers that the freedom to live in a safe, clean place without war and suffering is the best thing about Canada. He’s not a fan of the current government’s focus on diversity, though he enjoys exploring the world with his wife of 18 years.
Hometown: Ingersoll, ON
Occupation: Team leader, auto manufacturing
About: Country-born and bred, Jamie-Sue loves big trucks and small-town Canada. She defies any stereotypes that go along with country life with her open-mindedness and compassionate nature. She wants to see the country do much more to help its most marginalized communities, like those suffering from addiction or mental health issues. She believes we are only as good as the way we treat those most in need.
Ross Jackson Age: 50
Hometown: Edmonton, AB
About: Family man Ross has his roots firmly planted in Alberta but has explored the world as well, first as a young child living in New Zealand with his family, and later as an officer in the Navy. A father of three, Ross has strong opinions and believes, that hard work and traditional Canadian values are the key to success. He expects anyone who has the opportunity to live in Canada to feel the same.
First Contact is produced by Animiki See Digital Productions, Nüman Films, and Indios Productions, with the financial participation of the Canada Media Fund. Producers are Vanessa Loewen and Desiree Single for Animiki, Jeff Newman and Jocelyn Mitchell for Nüman Films, and Stephanie Scott for Indios Productions. Written and Directed by Jeff Newman.